I was 23. James celebrated his 23rd birthday while we were on honeymoon. We slept on the beach that night. We were young to be getting married, but we felt certain it was right. I’d called my sister the night James and I met to say I’d found the boy I was going to marry. The closest friendship to start, with a huge and life changing decision about whether we could become more. If I’m honest life was never quite the same once we’d met.
A friend took our wedding photos - I realise now what a huge ask that was. I look young, stressed and uncomfortable. Her lens wasn’t working right and we didn’t know where or how to stand. It’s always been a point of sadness. I’ve always wished we could take more....one day, but that felt like an odd thing to do. Life took over, years came and went, lucky enough to to create our own family unit. Huge life events, storms that we never realised we’d navigate together. Adjusting to our relationship taking a back seat amongst family life, adjusting to living with one other adult amidst the repetition of daily life. Marriage is not always easy, not always plain sailing. We’ve been married 20 years this year. This feels like quite the milestone - maybe a big enough milestone to mark with some photos.
Hayley knew Curbar Edge perfectly - I put my dress on in the woods, and we chased the evening light across the rocks. It was wonderful to just walk and enjoy wearing my dress. It was great to spend a bit of time with James and remember and reflect on the many events that have left us more comfortable in our own skin over these 20 years. More comfortable in who we are now - and that despite things not always being easy - 20 years is well worth celebrating. I had ordered flowers from florist @laylarobinsondesign who grows and dries all her own flowers in the beautiful Herefordshire hills. I asked for flowers to represent our 4 sons, our 4 nieces and 2 nephews who have all arrived in these 20 years. Extra flowers to edge the bouquet to represent the many people who have loved and supported us - tied in a ribbon from one of our sons baby blankets. A bouquet to represent love and life and loss - it’s all part of our story.
I met Hayley last year while she was teaching at a photography portrait workshop. She is gorgeous, easy going, funny, approachable, enthusiastic....and as we have discovered, a very talented photographer. When I tentatively asked what she thought of the idea she leapt at the chance. No hesitation, no pondering the idea, full throttle encouragement. Our plans of urban cityscape swiftly switched to Peak District Sunset and we hatched a final plan the night before once we knew the light would be just right. I raced home from work, did my hair and make up myself. James bought a new shirt but wore his original tie. His wedding suit was too big at the time and has long gone. I can still get in my dress - just! We both wore our matching black converse. I think I’d have enjoyed my wedding day much more if I’d had comfy shoes!
Hayley was wonderful. Calm, relaxed, gave us little directions of where and how to stand. She’s fun and I think you can see from the photos - she has given us a priceless gift. I love them. I have waited 20 years to say that - she has put to bed some thoughts that I should have put to bed years ago. It was so much fun, the results are more than I’d ever hoped for. I love our crows feet and to see who we are as a couple after all this time. I have ordered a handmade album for the photos from @heatherdewickbookbinder - who made our original album. I can’t wait!
Photography - Hayley Gell Photography - @hayleygellphotography
Bouquet - Layla Robinson Design - @laylarobinsondesign